Human Interest

Day of Archaeology as a Masters student

I am a Masters student studying Archaeology and I have spent today writing parts of my dissertation as well as adding some new posts to my group I recently created on facebook called ‘Archaeology Lancaster’ where I post information about events in Lancaster and other archaeology related news.

My dissertation is on the Roman site of Vindolanda and I still have until September to finish it but I still have a way to go yet! I have done several modules this year as part of my MA- Neolithic Britain, ritual and religions, research module and archaeology of gender which were all really interesting.

I have also been busy with other bits recently – I took my CSCS test and got IFA membership. I have also been volunteering at the local museum and went on a conservation course with them and I am doing a scuba diving course on underwater archaeology soon.

I always wanted to be an archaeologist from as far back as I can remember but I don’t know where this interest came from. I decided to study Ancient History and Egyptology as my degree and then I went on my first excavation in Swansea. After this I looked for more to volunteer on and found one at Vindolanda and then most recently ones as part of the festival of archaeology. I also love being in Museums and collecting books on archaeology.

As part of the festival of archaeology this week I have been to several talks run by Oxford archaeology North in Lancaster – one called ‘what the Romans did for us’ and the other ‘community archaeology’ and I went to a surveying day using a total station in the park. I also went on an excavation at the Senhouse Museum in Maryport and one at Swarthmoor Hall in Ulverston as part of the festival.

At some point in the near future I hope to get a job in archaeology or a related discipline.

Networking and more networking

Clay Cobra figurine originally from Amarna Egypt, now in the British Museum

I find that much of my time is spent writing emails, networking, and well, more emails. Today, I have had to write emails regarding an upcoming trip to Egypt to do GPR work with a colleague in glaciology. The emails had already gone out, but the relevant person is on holiday, so now have to be resent. Aaargh.  I’ve also had to write to a potter with whom I will be working. She is going to make replicas of the cobra figurines I am working on (let’s see if I can figure out how to attach an image– this one from a poster I made. I can’t figure out how to place it, so it’s somewhere below). She is going to make 40 of them and then colleagues from engineering will perform fracture experiments. These figurines have been said to have been ‘ritually’ broken. We’ll see if we can tell! Anyway, tight communication is required to make sure we are on the same page!

One of my students also dropped by to get advice from me. This is why I use my office to do admin and teaching related activities — research I save for when I am home, away from the inevitable interruptions and knocks on the door from people saying ‘can I see you for a minute?’.

I’ve also had the opportunity to ‘hang-out’ with three other archaeologists using Google-hangout. This was after taking a break to go to a retirement party for some colleagues. Toasting with wine is also part of the job *grins*. Anyway, it’s a great tool to see what other people are up to, share ideas, debate, etc. Ironically, I ended up chatting to someone who is also in the same town I am in, and I know his partner very well. Small world indeed!

Right back to the tedious grant proposal…

A Day in the Life of an Investigator for the RCAHMW

My name is Spencer Gavin Smith and I work as an Investigator for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Wales, based in Aberystwyth. I’m also working on my PhD on the topic of ‘Parks, Gardens and Designed Landscapes of Medieval Wales and the Marches’. So my posts through the day will reflect either my job (which I love), or what I do for academic fun! (which I also love).

Today, as on most days, I’ve checked my e-mails at home to see if I’ve received anything archaeologically or historically useful from my friends in America and Canada. If I have, then I know it’s there for me to look at when I get home from work. I’ve promised a friend some archaeological and historical information on 16th and 17th Century deer hunting practices for her to look at and we can compare to how deer hunting is portrayed in Robin Hood ballads of the same period, so it’s a useful trade of information.

I’ve caught the train to work, so I tend to use the hour and a half to work on any academic papers I have on the go. At the moment I’m writing up, editing or proof reading papers on Medieval Leper Houses in North Wales; Post-Medieval occupation of Castles which had fallen out of use and no longer functioned as castles and the structural history of a medieval parish church in Cheshire.